Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Spoiler-Free Review
It's been a week since Netflix premiered its latest original series, "A Series of Unfortunate Events," starring veterans Neil Patrick Harris, Will Arnett, Cobie Smulders, and Patrick Warburton, and all I can say is: what a way to start 2017 with a bang.
Like any other dark-ish comedy project, "A Series of Unfortunate Events" is not for everybody. However, it seems like Hollywood has finally learned how to adapt these Lemony Snicket stories – which spun thirteen books between 1999 and 2006 – in a way that is binge-able, suspenseful, and equally engaging to children and adults.
Unlike 2004's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" movie starring Jim Carrey, this show wasn't afraid to go there when it had to, edging on every single limit of what is considered safe TV for XXI Century kids. It reminded me of every kids movie I watched, growing up in the 1990s, that was unafraid to tackle on subjects that a huge portion of its audience probably didn't fully understand. There's death on Episode 1. On Episode 2, a grown man attempts to marry a 14-year-old.
Neil Patrick Harris' Count Olaf is scary, awful, and extremely easy to despise – which is exactly the point. As expected, his performance is subtler than Jim Carrey's usual all-over-the-place approach, but the Count's flamboyance, arrogance, and self-righteousness are all still there.
Netflix introduced us to three wonderfully talented kids, including Louis Hynes, who plays Klaus Baudelaire, the smart middle brother of the bunch. It's delightful to watch him outsmart adults and fight for his siblings to survive in such adverse conditions.
Malina Weissman plays the creative, resourceful, and joyous Violet Baudelaire, the elder sibling of fourteen who is always watching out for her family and overcoming challenging odds. The character has a calm presence about her that is in direct contrast with Count Olaf's tormented craziness.
And the Baudelaire family is complete with baby sister Sunny, played by Presley Smith, who steals the spotlight at every turn and speaks through subtitles.
K. Todd Freeman plays the banker Mr. Poe, who is a character you'd like to punch in the face even more often than Count Olaf. He is smart during certain times and dumb during other moments, but he never seems to be truly concerned for the wellbeing of the Baudelaire children.
Patrick Warburton plays Lemony Snicket, the author of the "A Series of Unfortunate Events" book series. Both in the literature and on the TV show, his role is one of a detective telling the audience everything he knows about the Baudelaire family and what has happened to them. He is the ultimate narrator who takes us from one point to the next, going back in time when necessary.
"A Series of Unfortunate Events" is planned to have three seasons in total, and it has the potential to become a dark cult hit for years to come. Netflix has already green-lit a second season.
This franchise brings the company an opportunity to create live-action content that is appealing to younger audiences while still getting appreciation from older subscribers who actually pay for the monthly fee.
I never thought I would enjoy this show as much as I did, but the cast is great, the writing is smart, and even the sometimes-excessive CGI feels appropriate. It is a must-watch!